Slain! is a disappointing death growl

Heavy metal is the musical and theatrical manifestation of mankind’s lizard brain. It’s an auditory siege that rifles through our ancient and violent nature that was once necessary to survive. This music transmutes those base emotions through myth, metaphor, and performance through modern instrumentation, impossible without electrical amplification. The costumes vary from latex to bullet belts, corpse paint to standard issue black, and on the stage the lights are kept low or flashing. Every note and image is calculated and well-rehearsed, because metal thrives in the extremes and requires complete attention to maintain the shared illusion for everyone at the…


What if all videogames were Breakout?

Pippin Barr is a stalwart example of a videogame scientist. He’s one of only a few who fit that title—people who constantly experiment with videogames, testing their boundaries, remixing their components, taking curious lines of thought to their furthest iteration. Take his latest as an example. Called Indie Bungle 2: Breakout Indies, it imagines for us the games that a “shitty cloning company” (specializing in clones of games to turn a profit and not, say, sheep or humans) would make had it only the technology to produce variations of Atari’s 1976 arcade classic Breakout. This idea didn’t come out of nowhere.…


Oxenfree glows with teenage charm

The internet has been quietly buzzing about Oxenfree. Its status is held as the next über-cool opus of teenage ennui. But, for a second, forget all of that. Let’s just look at the damn thing. Oxenfree takes place on a small island in the Pacific Northwest; a tourist spot frequented after dark by local high-schoolers who go there to party. The scale and beauty of the place are often breathtaking, with hills and cliffs that rise high over the ocean, beaches that open onto uninterrupted sea, and giant caves that hide creepy illusions. Walking trails crisscross the island, taking Alex…


The story behind Downwell, one of this year’s most delightful surprises

Downwell might be a perfect game title. Not only is it short and pithy, but it serves as a perfect summation for what developer Ojiro Fumoto has created. It’s a game in which a young boy is continuously falling down a well, avoiding enemies and purchasing upgrades along the way. But it’s not a hopeless endeavor. Armed with Gunboots firing from his feet, the boy is able to defend himself during his descent. The result is the type of sweat-inducing adventure that threatens to do water damage to your smartphone or controller, a game whose red and white character models…


Merrily Perily is a comedy of errors about poison and pooping yourself

There’s a certain type of prank prevalent on YouTube where the prankster dribbles hot sauce onto a friend’s food and also into their drink, so that once they eat the food and realize the predicament they’re now in, reaching for their drink will only make things worse.Merrily Perily takes that prank and stretches it out into an entire game. The game casts the player as Perry, a man who wanders into a village suffering from dehydration. You ask all the villagers for help, but for some reason, they’re all extremely standoffish and seem dedicated only to wasting your time. With…